You may not have heard of Iranian singer-songwriter Hamid Sami yet, but the hosts over at the SXSW Music Festival had already heard of him in 2010, as they invited Sami to their event, due to his project Ava, of which he was a founder, composer, lead vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player. Certainly the folks over at Canadian Music Week (CMW) – one of the premiere musical events in North America – have already heard of Hamid Sami, as he was invited to their event in both 2013 and 2014. So if you, as a music fan, have yet been acquainted with the talents of Sami, you partly have yourself to blame in a way. Of course, part of the responsibility has to be carried by Hamid Sami himself. The reason? He has practically spent the last 3 years working on the remastering and reissuing of the EP “Knock Out Mice”, initially recorded with his band Telecraze – an alternative indie, experimental, and psychedelic music project from Tehran, featuring Hamid Sami, Amin Rad, Behrang Najafi, Mahan Nia and Mehdy Farazane.
Nady later came to replace Mahan as the guitar player for the live show and recording of the first EP. Since the band split, with each member following their own projects, Sami still decided to finish the band’s recordings, and is planning to release the LP of completed works in 2018.
Hamid Sami has in the meantime published 4 tracks of the recording on Soundcloud, to give people insight into Telecraze’s creative musical statement. A multi-headed musical hydra, Sami doesn’t forge a new genre but ingeniously manages to encompass all of the chewy fondant centers from diverse styles with very little of the over-sweet candy shells. “Knock Out Mice”, judging by these first set of tracks, is an immersive experience that doesn’t lend itself to parsing individual tracks.
For me it’s meant to be heard as a whole, as each song unfolds and builds on what has come before it. Parts of it are achingly beautiful, such as the gently swelling soundscape and vocal that greets the listener on “Brand New Sky”, a prelude that gives way to the acoustic guitars and harmonies of “Felt To Slip”.
Though there are glimpses of hope, for the most part, “Knock Out Mice” is full of introspective, often melancholy lyrics. But the lyrics, as the music, are integral to the overall feel of the album. Just as this is a recording that demands to be listened to as a whole work, this is a project that you let surround you in its totality rather than trying to separate any of its parts.
Hamid Sami’s delivery is often smooth and melodic – it’s in service of the music as his voice blends in with the instrumentation, always riding with the current, never fighting it. Except for “Satelighter”, where his voice juxtaposed against the stark, throbbing electro background.
“Come On Let’s Run” is driven by organically clean, slow picked guitars. The track has a calm to it that feels centered and deliberate. Sami’s voice has a mystical appeal as he lets it stand front and center. It’s a reminder of how emotion-filled his vocals can be.
There are no sharp musical edges here on “Knock Out Mice”, and the songs ease from one dreamy turn into the next. Plus, the tunes are overwhelmingly slow to mid-tempo, but that’s by design, as the musical atmosphere and moods are what separates them from each other. Listening to the record from start to finish is an extremely rewarding experience of wistful reflection bathed in warm firelight.